Alumni Updates: German Studies Fall 2012 Fall 2012 More News: German Studies Uncategorized

German Studies: Lauren Shaw (’09) accepted to UCL

Next fall Lauren Shaw (German Studies, ’09) will be starting a master’s program in global migration at University College London. The program looks at the social, economic and political causes and implications of human migration, while seeking to better understand the lived experiences of local and international migrant communities. Courses are drawn from a number of disciplines, including geography, anthropology, economics and political science, and students benefit from UCL’s connections to NGOs, governmental and community-based organizations in London. Lauren, who spent two years in Austria as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, is particularly interested in youth migration, educational opportunities and challenges for children with a migration background, and rural vs. urban areas as places of immigration and integration.

Since returning from Austria in 2011, Lauren has been working as a research associate at the German Historical Institute in Washington DC. She is part of the research project Transatlantic Perspectives: Europe in the Eyes of European Immigrants to the United States, 1930-1980, for which she does research, editing and website management. She is currently helping with the planning for a workshop entitled “Migrants as ‘Translators’: Mediating External Influences on Post World War II Western Europe, 1945-1973”, which the GHI is organizing in cooperation with the Institut für die Geschichte der Deutschen Jüden and will be held in Hamburg in October 2013.

Fall 2012 News News: French & Francophone Studies

French and Francophone: Students scholars tackling the world. How the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship is transforming the lives of French and Francophone Students.

Marcel Reboussin and Mark McCormack

Research is at the center of the French & Francophone Studies program. Students are able to conduct research projects in many different ways, as the annual Fête de la Recherche demonstrates: short projects done while studying in Montpellier; longer projects conducted while studying and doing an internship through the I.F.E program in Paris, Strasbourg, or BruxellesMonroe projects; and honors theses. Some of our most exciting projects have been made possible by the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship. Last May, I sat with Bridget Carr, one of our most recent McCormack-Reboussin scholars to discuss her research and the incredible opportunity this scholarship has been for her. So what is this scholarship, and what do our students do with it?

In 1995, Mark McCormack, a distinguished alumnus and generous benefactor of the College, created a merit-based scholarship to support financially an outstanding French major during his or her third and fourth years at the College.  The scholarship was originally named in honor of Marcel Reboussin, a longtime member of the faculty in French at the College, and Mr. McCormack’s favorite professor from his days as a French major.  The scholarship now also bears the name of Mr. McCormack in honor of his many professional accomplishments, his unflagging devotion to his alma mater, and his inspired support for student research in the field of French & Francophone Studies. With the generous support of Mr. McCormack’s daughter, Mrs. Leslie McCormack-Gathy, the terms of the scholarship were changed in 2008 in order to benefit more students.

The scholarship is now awarded on an annual basis to a rising senior French and Francophone Studies major, and is worth a total of $12,000:  up to $4,000 to support research to be conducted in a French-speaking country or region during the summer between the junior and senior years, with the remainder ($8,000 or more) to be applied toward tuition and fees for the senior year.  The McCormack-Reboussin scholars’ research treat an intellectually relevant topic related to the French language, French/Francophone literature, or the culture of a French-speaking country or region.

In the past few years, McCormack-Reboussin scholars have been conducting research in France, as well as in Belgium and Senegal. Not only is the geographical scope of these students’ investigations broad; the field of their inquiries is also very diverse. The scholars work very closely with their honors thesis advisors to develop their research projects.

In 2012-13, Daniel Hodges is working with professor Leruth on a project on French involvement in the political life of Congo/ Zaire/ RDC from the 1880s to the present. This summer, Daniel was able to travel to Bruxelles and Paris to conduct his research. He will present a first iteration of his ongoing work on Saturday 10th at the Fete de la Recherche.

In 2011-12, Bridget Carr spent a month doing archival work and conducting interviews in Dakar. She eventually completed an her honors thesis on  “Franco-Senegalese Relations through the Lens of Development Aid (1895-2012)“ (Highest Honors/Professor Médevielle, advisor ).

In 2010-11, Philippe Halbert researched the image of the monster in French Enlightenment culture, and this project took him to Paris and Versailles. His honors thesis ultimately bore the title: ‘Heretofore Considered Legendary’: The Harpy of 1784 and the Making of Monsters in Eighteenth-Century France.“ (High Honors/ Professor Pacini, advisor)

Eve Grice (2009) also worked in Paris, and wrote a thesis entitled “What She Said: Gender, Race, and Discourses on Difference at the Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration” (Highest Honors/Professor Fauvel, advisor).

If you are interested in learning more about past recipients of this scholarship, their projects, or if you wish to know more about the application process, please visit our website.

Fall 2012 News News: German Studies

German: The Spirit of Giving: The J. Richard Guthrie Scholarship in German Studies

Kai Simenson (’12), recipient of Guthrie Award, Summer 2011

J. Richard Guthrie believed strongly in the undergraduate study of German language, literature, and culture. As part of his estate, he endowed a scholarship fund to assist undergraduates to carry out semester or summer research in German Studies. Because of this generous endowment from his estate, the German Studies Section at W&M is able to award a limited number of scholarships to qualified undergraduates in German Studies.

A native of Hilton Village who attended Hilton Elementary, J. Richard Guthrie was graduated from Warwick High School in 1958 where he was elected the “Wittiest” in the class, a personality trait which stood him in good stead throughout his life. He held a B.A. Degree in French and German from William and Mary, an M.A. from Middlebury College Graduate School of French at the Sorbonne in Paris. There, as the elected Student Body President, he was presented the symbolic key to the city by the then mayor of Paris, later to become the president of the French Republic, Francois Mitterand.

Later, he continued on with his education earning the Ph.D. in Romance Languages with an extensive German minor, granted by special permission of the Graduate Committee from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He was the recipient of numerous grants for study at the Universities of Munich, Cologne and the Free University of Berlin in Germany. He was honored to have been chosen as one of 15 Americans to participate in a conference in West Berlin sponsored by the West German government in 1981 and a special grant for 12 university teachers nation-wide to attend a conference on the “New Germany” in Berlin in 1991, one year after reunification.

Elaine Vega (’13) and Anna Kim (’13) on their way from Potsdam to Berlin, Germany, both recipients of Guthrie scholarships for German Studies Research Abroad during the summer of 2011

He was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus from Christopher Newport upon his retirement in May of 2002 after 35 years where he was responsible for the construction, inauguration and implementation of the German major and minor programs from their beginnings until his retirement. He served three elected three-year terms as Chairman of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures. He traveled extensively throughout all of Europe: northern, central and southern, and the Mid-East, including Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Greece.

Professor Guthrie was passionate about German Studies, and he channeled that passion into creating opportunities for W&M undergrads to follow their passion. Thanks to his generous gift, German Studies undergraduates at W&M will be able to carry out research in German Studies in the United States or abroad for years to come. Recent recipients of Guthrie scholarship funds have included Kai Simenson, Anna Kim, Elaine Vega, Judson Peverall and Sierra Barnes.

Fall 2012 News News: Russian Studies

Russian: A Graduate Student Gives Back (video)

Erin Alpert with Profs. Prokhorov, Ginzbursky-Blum and Corney at her recent talk at W&M

Erin Alpert graduated from the College in 2007 with a degree in Russian and Post Soviet Studies.  During her time at W&M, she studied abroad in Russia thanks, in part, to a scholarship she received from the Reves Center.

“One of the highlights of my college career was definitely my summer study abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. I loved having the opportunity to live with a host family, study in a Russian university, and explore the country whose language I had been studying in the classroom.”

Currently, Erin is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh.  Despite living on a graduate student’s pay, Erin contributes something each year to the Dobro Slovo Scholarship Fund, which annually provides a scholarship to one W&M undergraduate who is studying at St. Petersburg State University through the department’s study abroad program. Watch a video about Erin’s graduate experiences below:

“Even though as a graduate student I don’t have much extra to spare, I always find a way to contribute to the Dobro Slovo Scholarship Fund so that other students can have the same opportunities that meant so much to me when I was at William and Mary.”

It is generous donors like Erin who give a little each year that allow RPSS to continue supporting deserving students in their pursuit of a truly globalized education.  One such current student, Sophie Kosar (‘14), received just this kind of support for her trip to St. Petersburg in the summer of 2011, the results of which exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Modest Gifts Pay Big Dividends

Sophie’s 2011 summer trip to St. Petersburg featured many of the staple experiences students abroad have: classes in the target language, great times with the host family, and many fond memories of a city explored and friends made.  Where her experience differed begins with the research and film project she and her fellow students were tasked with by their group leaders, Alexander Prokhorov and Jes Therkelsen .

According to Sasha Prokhorov, “In 2011 WM students made several key innovations in their research projects.  First, they redefined their understanding of the sites of urban memory.  Instead of focusing on the sites that interpreted the past, they examined the sites that create history in the present and define St. Petersburg’s future.  For example, Alex McGrath analyzed the project for the new skyscraper The Gazprom Tower and Sophie Kosar studied the Marine Facade, St. Petersburg’s new seaport. Second, student added to their traditional tools of analysis, pen and paper, the new media, lapel microphone and digital camera. In addition to research papers, they produced documentary films. Third, students included in their film crews collaborators from St. Petersburg University School of Journalism.  Russian students helped WM students and served as their field producers.  The result of this genuinely international effort was a multimedia portal that combined the interactive potential of a blog, immediacy of a documentary and reflexive power of a research paper.”

Sophie and her partner’s film project approached the theme of memory through a somewhat non-traditional angle: the myth of St. Petersburg and the construction of the Marine Façade.  “Our projects were supposed to be about sites of memory, which makes one usually immediately think history and monuments and things like that,” says Sophie, by way of introduction.  “My project was on contemporary issues and contemporary problems.”

Sophie’s topic – the Marine Façade, a commercial port and business center meant to facilitate tourism and increase revenue in the city.  While many Petersburg residents were onboard with the proposed plan, which would also include the building of new neighborhoods and expanding city transportation, some were less than excited about the prospect of such a Western urbanization of the traditional Vasilievsky Island, one of several islands making up St. Petersburg.  This new, largely commercial and highly modernized region would clash with the city’s traditional aesthetic, thereby diverging with Petersburg as these residents viewed and remembered it.

However, as Sophie explores in the paper she wrote about her research into the Marine Façade, the myth and memory of St. Petersburg is a double-edged sword.  The traditional Petersburg many of the Marine Façade’s opponents used to support their case was itself an example of an extremely modern, Western city planned and built by Tsar Peter the Great as a means of connecting Russia with Europe.  Founded in 1703, Petersburg embodied from the very beginning the tensions between the old and the new, the East and the West.  As Sophie explains, the Marine Façade is simply continuing this tradition.

Researching a site of memory and making a documentary about it led to more opportunities the average study abroad student does not have, like interviewing a variety of pivotal figures in the Marine Façade discussion.  “First we interviewed an architect Rafail Dayanov who does historical restoration in the city,” describes Sophie.  “Then we interviewed the PR manager for the Marine Façade managing company Alexander Shimberg who is doing all the port business, all of the current development, all of the land reclamation.  And then we interviewed an opposition NGO leader Tatiana Sharagina.”

This experience, facilitated by the Dobro Slovo scholarship, not only did wonders for Sophie’s Russian, it gave her vital research and writing experience.  “Going to St. Petersburg last year was great, not only because it helped me a lot with my Russian, it gave me more confidence definitely…Doing independent research, especially at the undergraduate level, is invaluable.” Watch excerpts from our interview with Sophie in Kazan via Skype:

Sophie’s hard work abroad has led to more unexpected and pleasant surprises.  The research paper she wrote about the project has been published in Columbia University’s Birch, the first national undergraduate publication devoted exclusively to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian cultures.  It has also been featured in Vestnik, the School of Russian and Asian Studies’ newsletter.  Meanwhile, the documentary she and her partner made has been screened several times, including at the Global Film Festival, an international venue, in Feb 2012, where she got to walk the red carpet at the Kimball Theater in Colonial Williamsburg.  It was also screened at the University of Virginia’s Slavic Forum.

And all this is thanks, in large part, to the scholarship alums like Erin contribute to every year.  Such donations go far beyond the financial – they enable students to expand their horizons and inspire them to pursue new adventures and opportunities.  Sophie is currently spending her junior year studying Russian in Kazan, something she would have been hesitant to do had she not been able to go to St. Petersburg the summer before.  “I am so glad that I went last year.  It’s so much better, so much better.”

For all those generous alums, Sophie, and others like her, appreciate all that you do for them and plan to pay it forward themselves.  “I know that I for one, having received donations, definitely in the future am going to want to help out because it’s really important and I feel like if you can help other students, inspire their love of learning about x, y, or z, then it’s definitely worth it.”

So, thank you to all who contribute.  Without you, many of our students would be unable to have the kind of amazing experiences abroad that Sophie has had.  And don’t be strangers!  Sophie perhaps says it best: “It was really cool to meet all of the alums at Homecoming.”

Alumni Updates Alumni Updates: Chinese Studies Fall 2012 Featured News: Alumni News: Chinese Studies

Chinese Program 2012 Alumni Feature

by Emily Wilcox


The W&M 2012 graduating class boasted a stellar group of seniors in the Chinese Program. Three students received High Honors for senior honors thesis projects advised by Chinese Program faculty, and more than eighty-five percent studied abroad in China at least once as part of their undergraduate experience. Students double-majored in Chinese and a range of other fields, including Chemistry, Government, History, International Relations, Management, Marketing, and Mathematics.

Now, six months after their graduation, graduates in the 2012 Chinese Program class are thriving in jobs, internships, and scholarships related to their Chinese studies. The following is a sampling of some of the exciting work these students are doing today. Support and skills gained at William and Mary played an important role in achieving these successes; for most, foreign language proficiency specifically was a key criteria in the application and selection process for the jobs and scholarships in which they are now involved.

Congratulations to all of our talented 2012 graduates!


Kate McGinnis (W&M Chinese Major ‘12)

Intern, National Committee on US-China Relations, New York

I am currently interning at the National Committee on United States-China Relations, a non-profit that focuses on bettering the US-China relationship through exchanges and dialogue. In 1971 the National Committee hosted the historic Ping Pong exchange, kicking off the era of ‘ping pong diplomacy’. Today, they continue to host the exchange of teachers, policy leaders, government leaders, and youth. It has been a wonderful opportunity for me to work with this organization. So far, I have worked with the development team on our annual Gala Dinner, held at the Plaza Hotel, which raised 1.4 million dollars for the National Committee. In the four weeks I worked on the fundraising campaign I personally raised $78 thousand. I helped compile a briefing book for Navy Officers in preparation for our three-day educational conference on contemporary China. I am so thankful to the W&M Chinese program for giving me a strong foundation in Chinese language and culture, which has allowed me to thrive at the National Committee. I often find myself recalling experiences from my W&M study abroad trip in Beijing when we meet Chinese delegations stopping in at our New York City office. Most importantly, I appreciate the fantastic faculty at W&M who encouraged my interest in all things Chinese.



Timothy McDade (W&M Chinese Major ‘12)

IT Program Manager, Microsoft, Washington State

I graduated from W&M in May 2012 with dual majors in Chinese Language & Literature and Applied Mathematics, and am now working at Microsoft in Redmond, WA. I’m in a leadership training rotational program within Microsoft’s internal IT department, which allows me to experience the breadth of what a global company has to offer. My Chinese major has precipitated all of this – I got my job because of my language skills and travel experience. I plan to continue studying the language and culture in the future, and hope to spend a considerable amount of time working in Beijing and Shanghai. My mentors from the W&M Chinese department provided guidance and support during my job search. My international background and language skills have served me well so far, and will continue to ensure that I have a competitive edge as I move forward in the business world.



Lydia Fairfax (W&M Chinese Major ‘12)

Marketing Specialist, Registrar Corp, Newport News

After graduating from William and Mary, I was hired as a marketing specialist at Registrar Corp in Newport News. Registrar Corp assists companies in the Drug, Medical Device, Food and Beverage, and Cosmetics industries with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory compliance. The firm is headquartered in Hampton, Virginia, and has assisted over 22,000 companies in more than 150 countries, with 19 regional offices in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.

 This year, I was working at trade shows in Washington DC and Baltimore when I was unexpectedly approached by representatives from Chinese companies who did not speak English. Although I had to improvise on the spot, I was able to present our company’s services and explain their questions using the Chinese I learned at William and Mary! The background in Chinese language and culture that I gained in the W&M Chinese Program helps me to understand other cultures, which is extremely important in my job due to the international nature of our company and our work. I got my job because of my ability to speak multiple languages. With so many international clients and offices, language abilities are essential in our company.



Stephen Hurley (W&M Chinese Major ‘12)

Boren Scholar, Beijing University, China

I started studying Chinese as a freshman at William and Mary in the fall of 2008. I studied abroad at Peking University through the W&M program in my junior year, and I have since returned to Beijing on a Boren scholarship to continue my Chinese studies. Currently, I am taking a classics course with a philosophy professor from Beijing University — this week we are covering the The Analects — and otherwise I am studying Chinese all the time. Tomorrow I will attend a job fair to get some practice networking, and we have an activity on Friday with the Beijing Film Academy. On my way to class one day, I was browsing the posters outside the campus amphitheater when I was shocked to see an advertisement for The Red Detachment of Women, a revolutionary ballet from the 1960s that we had discussed in my Chinese popular culture class last year. Needless to say, I immediately bought a ticket, and am very excited to see the performance next week.

Fall 2012 News News: Hispanic Studies

Hispanic Studies: “The Art of Medical Interpretation: Service-Learning on the Eastern Shore” (video)

That is the title with which Vivian K. Cooper (Major in Biology, Minor in Hispanic Studies, ’13) captured the real-world connection between the liberal arts, the sciences, and the College’s mission of service to national and international communities.  Vivian’s upperclassman Monroe Research Project was based on her research about medical interpretation and her experience as a volunteer medical interpreter in a four-week summer externship with Eastern Shore Rural Health System (ESRH) in July and August of 2012.  Hispanic Studies and ESRH have a partnership that began in 1998; in those fifteen years selected Hispanic Studies majors and minors who are fluent speakers of Spanish have helped physicians and nurses at ESRH treat thousands of Spanish-speaking farmworkers on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  In this video interview with Prof. Jonathan Arries, Vivian describes how she first became interested in her research topic, how she prepared to be a volunteer medical interpreter, and her most memorable experiences.



Fall 2012 News: Italian Studies

Italian: Study Abroad Student Sally Wade Teaches English

The following story was written by Italian student Sally Wade:

When I set off for my second journey in Italy, I was looking for an immersive experience. I wanted to see Italy not through a tourist’s eyes; I wanted to be more than a passive observer. I spent last summer in Florence studying Italian and Renaissance Art History with the W&M Study Abroad Program and it was my first taste of Bella Italia. I came back home with a deep sense that learning Italian for me was more than just conjugating verbs; I was simultaneously becoming bilingual and getting to know a whole different culture. We live in a world rich with diversity and, in learning Italian, I’ve begun to see more of that diversity – different people, cultures, perspectives, traditions, and lives. In short, studying abroad for a summer just made me sure that I needed to do it again. A five week dabble in the complexly beautiful Italian culture simply wasn’t enough time.

I was fortunate enough to be able to return, this time to the medieval hilltown of Siena, for four months this Spring. I chose a program called Siena Italian Studies which structures its program around a philosophy they call the “FICCS Approach” (Full Immersion: Content, Culture, and Service). Essentially, students are given the opportunity through homestays, intensive language courses, language exchange partners, and service projects to fully immerse in the Sienese culture. My own ability to immerse has been the product of many pieces of this journey – my homestay, traveling, making friends with the barista who makes my espresso each morning, my language partner from the Università di Siena, and my struggles (and triumphs) as an ESOL teacher.

Each component has its own story and place in my heart, but I’ve decided to talk about teaching English here because I think it’s a pretty unique part of my experience. This is one of the service projects we’re offered as part of our program and it is truly an eye-opening opportunity. The basic idea is that teachers at the public elementary schools here in Siena are required to teach an hour of English per week, but often times these teachers don’t speak more than very basic English. So every Wednesday for the past four months instead of going to my regular Italian language course, I walked to the Scuola Pascoli where two 5th grade classes await the arrival of their English teacher. Yes, that’s me. With the help of their regular teacher, Daniella, I put together an hour-long English lesson for each class.

I saw immediately some of the difference between American and Italian classrooms. My students call Daniella and me either by our first names or simply “Maestra” (i.e. teacher). I saw that some of the taboos which exist in American classrooms are not found here. Teachers are much more affectionate with students – hugs and kisses are normal. If a student gets a question wrong or forgets his textbook at home, he is publicly denounced and shamed. Grades are announced in front of the entire class. I can honestly say that there are things I like better about the American system, while other things are simply done better by the Italians.

The majority of our lessons were spent putting together a skit in English about Scooby Doo and the Mystery Gang. Apparently, the classic television show “Scooby Doo” has been dubbed into Italian and airs frequently on public television here. The kids know all about Daphne, Fred, Shaggy, and the whole gang so they were very enthused to be putting on a play about one of their favorite shows. Putting this play together was a learning experience in so many ways. I had to think of not only how to explain the pronunciation of words, but also what their significance. I learned how difficult it can be to hear the difference between here and ear and her. To us, it’s second nature, but to a 10 year-old who has just begun to learn English, it’s extremely difficult. Trying to explain the difference (both for the pronunciation and meaning) between well and we’ll was, in a word, trying.

Often times, I had to explain something in Italian if they weren’t understanding it in English which was always scary and often embarrassing. My Italian is far from fluent and I had to check my pride at the door each week and not care about achieving perfection, but focus on communicating. At the end of the day, my goal was for them to understand. I hope (and think) that them hearing me speak in broken, imperfect Italian encouraged them to have no fear. I wanted them to know that it wasn’t important to me that their English was without error – it was important that they came to class each week and tried. If they tried their absolute best and never gave up, I could not ask one single thing more of them.

And believe me that’s what they did. Together, we worked hard to cross the pesky language barrier and found that we could communicate and learn together. Each week, I was surprised to find that not only had their English improved, but their personalities were shining more and more brightly. The icing on the cake was that my Italian began to just flow from my mouth with much less effort and minimal stumbling.

Unfortunately, as I write this piece, it’s drawing near to the end of my time in Siena. Last week was the last English lesson with my precious fifth graders. The play isn’t quite ready, but I’m absolutely sure that it will be by the end of the month when they will present it to their families. I was showered with thank you notes as I left and treasured all of their kind words. (I particularly loved their spelling errors – you can see in the pictures that I obviously didn’t teach well the difference between leaving and living!) We exchanged both email and home addresses so that we can be penpals if they wish. Regardless of whether we keep in touch (and I hope this happens), I leave knowing that I these students will always hold a special place in my heart.

Aside from improving my Italian, I had the opportunity to meet wonderful, intelligent, and vivacious children. I had the privilege of seeing them leave behind their fears and put in the courage and dedication necessary to put together something of which they can be tremendously proud. I know this because I am tremendously proud. I am also very grateful for this opportunity to see inside Italian culture. Not only did I find what I came for – to see beyond tourist Siena – but I walked away with an experience I will never forget.

Sally Wade

Fall 2012 News News: Japanese Studies

Japanese: Julian Oreska ’09 speaks Bandai’s language


Julian Oreksa ’09

The following story originally appeared in the summer 2012 issue of the William & Mary Alumni Magazine – Ed.

Many come to the College of William & Mary to pursue degrees that they think will lead them to careers. Julian Oreska ’09 didn’t think his education would someday lead him to designing toys on the other side of the globe.

When Oreska returned to Williamsburg later in 2009 for the College’s Homecoming celebration, reconnecting with old friends led to a unique career. Oreska was searching for a permanent job in the United States after returning from an internship in Japan. He met Professor Rachel DiNitto from the William & Mary Japanese language faculty, who told him about a career forum in Boston for Japanese-English bilingual individuals interested in working in Tokyo, Japan.

Upon looking into the event, Oreska noted that Bandai, a prominent Japanese toy company, was among the companies that would be conducting interviews. Because Oreska had been a fan of Bandai since the company introduced the Power Rangers craze to the U.S., he decided to apply. During the interview process, his enthusiasm for the company won him the position.

“I apparently surprised my interviewers with an ability to answer questions in detail regarding specific Bandai product lines,” Oreska says.

With Bandai, Oreska serves as an integral part in the creation of new toy lines. As a product developer, he does everything from brainstorming new ideas to designing the packaging for the final product — and he does this all in his second language. Although he began studying Japanese when he was a sophomore in high school, majoring in East Asian studies and business at W&M made for a heavy course load that prevented him from taking language classes until he was a junior. He credits immersion into the culture as the only way he was able to achieve the level of mastery he has now.

“With a language like Japanese,” he says, “there are a myriad of idioms and nuances that arise in different settings, which formal instruction cannot replicate.”

While Oreska believes the skills he learned in the classroom at the College have prepared him for working for a consumer production company, he still faces many challenges working abroad.

“Living in a country where you were not born speaking the language can be tiring,”Oreska says. “Daily communication is a battle to remember the right words and phrases at the moment they are needed.”

For Oreska, a Richmond native, living in Japan has required many adjustments. He enjoys the conveniences of living in Tokyo, since “just about anything one could need or want is either in walking distance or just a short train ride away,” he says. However, he also noted that “living in a country as population-dense as Japan can feel strange at times.” His one-room Tokyo apartment that measures about 9 feet by 9 feet is a stark contrast to the“trees and wide-open spaces” of Virginia. Additional concerns, from the inability to find certain staples of American cuisine to earthquakes, make living abroad a challenge.

American and Japanese business practices can seem nearly as different as the languages the two countries speak. While companies on both sides of the Pacific seek to create a profit, Oreska personally witnesses the different ways they accomplish this. For instance, Japanese developers are often expected to perform joukin, a practice that requires Oreska to explain his products to individual shoppers. The countries also differ in work ethic. Oreska says, “Late nights in the United States are becoming more of the norm for young, American businesspeople, but 14-, 15-, even 16-hour days are nearly universal at Japanese companies.”

Even though Oreska misses many things from home (namely, Chipotle and his class of 2009 group from West Barrett Hall) he believes his experiences at the College prepared him to succeed abroad:

“I feel very fortunate to experience the business climate and culture of Japan firsthand.”